Even though this time of year things become drab and “dry” and the verdant greens turn from vibrant red, gold, yellow, and orange to brown, for me this season feels and is filled with signs of abundance: grain stockpiled in bank parking lots since grain elevators are over capacity, family gatherings during MEA weekend, young moms and dads with their ghosts and ghouls absorbing the timelessness of the moment walking together through neighborhoods, and preparations already started for Thanksgiving and Christmas (too soon?… apologies).

While things continue to progress well in the day-to-day operations of your church staff and pastor, there have also been some very stressful moments this year for your leaders and staff. The most poignant moment was on September 17th when our then bookkeeper “ghosted us.” She, without explanation or warning, simply stopped coming to work and would not return any communication from anyone. POOF! We scrambled to not only protect our assets and change passwords, but also to find someone competent for the job AND who could be here for more than a few weeks or months. We hope we’ve found her: Patty Smith is now our bookkeeper. Patty started mid-October and is already starting to show fruits of her attention to detail. Though we have been through a whale of a transitional period, we are certain that there has been neither financial malfeasance nor embezzlement of funds—which is a huge relief!

In order to make sure that we are continuing to progress forward in our changing of the charts of accounts and other financial handling systems, our Admin Committee did hire a consultant named Paul Steen. Paul comes to us with a remarkable Curriculum Vita which includes being a Chief Financial Officer at Holden Village for three years while they were shut down during a copper mine clean up, and Congregational Treasurer at Bethlehem when they became two distinct campuses with Minnetonka Lutheran Church where Pastor Meta is currently serving. Paul understands the kind of church administration system we need because of our different major ministries we have with the Congregational Committees’ ministry augmented by the ministries of The Chi Rho Center, The Child Care Center, the Music Series, and The Foundation. Paul will be with us two days a week until the end of the calendar year.

I am hopeful that our congregation might team up with another congregation or two (three?) to collaborate on ministry to and with youth and Young Adults. TRUST Youth is meeting again this fall and participation is picking up. But what else might we do with the other many sister congregations in the south Minneapolis Conference? The opportunities are plentiful and we have made some headway with the pastors of LCCR, Richfield, and Diamond Lake Lutheran Churches. I’ll keep you all posted as that progresses.

I am grateful to hear from many of you that the pledge card Sunday is something you look forward to each year. You have told me how putting that pledge in the plate is for you a powerful moment when you are saying “I’m in” to where God is calling this congregation. These moments are powerful for me as well. I hope you all are able to attend on November 10 as we together present our pledges as an offering to God and God’s ministry in the world!

As we look into the coming months I grow in my anticipation of the coming festival days. And as we approach the time when the rich earth will be flocked white and the days shorten, I am grateful for you and continue to be renewed in hope for our future together as St. John’s Lutheran Church.